Short story image

We danced beyond our skin, then began to talk

3,201 words

René Adams

Lets kill each other just this once.

The rain pours like a fine mercury.

Questioning how we dance in the shadows, unlit and built.

Nothing is said. And even the movement of old minds are made anew,

perhaps we are this rhythm of madness, perhaps we are not.

You are this darkness, to me. A face that melts day.

And together, we create light.

So we make parlay with all the hoopla, find fire with our dance, and care not of any else.

*

He and she laid down together.

Then made small jobs from their movements. And the sins came down from back to front. And even if we found an order, there would always be that laughter, in the background. It was just simple rain covering the entirety of east London. And humans know the poems inside each other. And when Jacques ate lunch he felt like eating everything around him. This is how a murderer feels, he thought. The documentaries get too excited. And miss everything out. They miss out the pain of humble animals. The joy. The way we know each other. And the way that there is only one mate. Even the photocopier knew. And even the distant calls of work knew, something said into the ear, far away.

The murderous heart is made exclusively from an image. And the image was something to do with sweat. There were times of lucidness, among the darkness, when it all just came like a hummingbird. And Jacques knew these times, in the city. He made the most of them. Since they were exactly like life, and not a caricature. And most strangely, they were light. They were not a story. But something much more gross. Pleasant and away from war. The only way he had of explaining them was by drawing them in his flat after work, and after the long walk home. And this too, was a congratulating thing, foot after foot after foot.

In the media, it was shown as a type of play. Crows soak up the grave yards, the feral pigeons are displeased as always, and these are the only birds around when you’re gone.

The rain hurried everyone along. The schools poured out children. The Underground poured out workers. And there was no place in-between. The rain was better than sun. And it slashed across the face of everyone. Men and women tried to light smokes outside of the tube stations, and helped each other to light them. There was hope in the grey of it all, in the huddle, and the momentary times when they came together.

Then the rain got heavier, and the smokes began to disperse. The school teachers, the professionals, the thieves, and the random clad. And people pulled inside of the bus stops and stations. Jacques didn’t. He walked the rural way back home, and even took a daft pride in it. He liked the way that the rain messed up his black hair, and he just let it drip down. He’d done his day of work. His time of death. And now there was only movement. Although, his smoke went out too, as the rain became heavy.

It didn’t matter that he curled it inside his paw. This late afternoon, Jesus, God, and all of their ideas were spilling their beers, and the populace street had no where to put them. The gutter swears. And the birds sweared. Knowing this was too heavy. He looked up, caring about nothing, maybe about a lass, maybe about why the night settled him, the same as her. And he swore back. All those things that humans say to the early British winter, and shoot from their mouths, with no care for who hears. The worker sighed and stopped drinking the rain as it became heavier. Drinking the snaking cars away.

He looked around and wondered why the streets leading into Shoreditch were clear. Surely they couldn’t all be scared of a few gods and sons having too much, and in truth, he’d started at around lunch time. He continued through the rain, and thought unkind things about the George Orwell narratives that he wished departed from reality. Then a piece of rain slapped him on the head harder than the rest. Then another, and another. Jacques heard nothing, only the songs he played along Roman Road, near to his flat. He didn’t play them, per se, but he set the day up with music, and said to the road taking him home: it must be this, or, it must be that.

And he was the only dumb carnival in a show that loved them. He was soaked. But the camouflage of rain was changing into fleshy hits. In a quick flourish, the same thing that a boxer out of steam does when putting his last wishes into his last punches, the rapidity suddenly changed from a water into substance in a second. Jacques looked up as something came down towards his face. He moved out of the way and breathed out. What the hell? Does this sky know what I’m thinking? Ha! He skipped again, and lost his smile as he looked at the grey lilly pads landing on the street. Which is what they were. Just tepid lilly pads. Almost translucent, but not quite. They flapped down, and didn’t bounce back up.

So many paratroopers flowing down, convex until they hit the street, then concave in a quiet whumph as they hit. It made no sense. It would have been a good day for Bosche to paint, or perhaps Cezanne.

In the last instance, as Jacques ran, he was screaming.

He wasn’t screaming the normal scream. One that said hey ho I’m alarmed and all that, but he ran ahead and looked from side to side. He was on the track again, and the madness inside his gut was all around. It wouldn’t catch him though. There was a small voice inside his boredom now fire that said he was built for this, and, there’s no point in cowering inside some damn bus stop. You cowards! Ha. Jacques pushed forward dodging them like some type of retired rugby player, feeling some of the mercury drops on his back, and before falling unconscious with the weight, looking up.

Deaf

Deaf

Deaf

And darkness.

Smelling a little like the absence of bleach, inside an enormous hall.

Jacques squinted. Licked his lips. Blew out. And remembered a bloody dream where he was dodging rain drops in the shape of mercury animals, and all that. A hard and tight burst of laughter pumped out from his chest as he rose himself to his feet in the darkness. It was black. And the smell wasn’t the taste of nothingness, but the smell of regurgitating engine parts, built from different things than metals and oil. That was ok. He always took his mind from the river, as it passed by Tower Bridge. And there was no reason to mention the small things, but it was his way of knowing love, in a city made of old poems.

He sniffed around, trying to make claws of his fingers in-front of his face, far too insane before the day began to even question his own logic. Which is when a deep howl began and he came back to full consciousness. He worked things out this way: 1) I am insane, and I am dead, 2) I am drunk and I am dreaming, 3) I am lucid, and sit playing poker. The howl began around his navel, as he began to sway from side to side. He missed dancing with Luce. He missed dancing with Luce that time. And surely, if a man bet on all three possibilities, or was able to, this was the best bet. To bet on the simpleness of it all. You wear a dress. I’ll wear a suit. Then we’ll exchange lives in a large hall, as the music begins, knowing it’s bad, and creating our own.

He danced for some time in the darkness alone, being observed. An observing of what despair may be. But. Nothing fit. It just looked like a bloke dancing. Perhaps not Rudolf Nureyev, nothing that leaps across the eye, but certainly a cheap shoed man waltzing, working the stars, jacket coming off, awkwardly, no light, but who cares, on the floor, then a few spins and, nearly a trip, on the floor, then back up, howling hard, like today is a good day to dance and I’ll be damned if I don’t.

Then a boom became a light in the far reaches of the hall, and Jacques looked around for his suit jacket. Fuckers. And don’t think I won’t come back for that, he thought to himself, or said out loud. The light bored of his personal habits and pulled him in. One shadow behind his back, and another flinging him forwards, as a man being carried between two. The pulling light was a splitting bird in the distance, just a corpse, or a street lamp, harp, a hummingbird of yellow, then a collection of genitals becoming neither as Jacques laughed. It felt like the days when he ran up the hill on the last leg of his run towards his house in the north, a steep thing, gravity moving, caring nothing about the burn inside his muscles, and his tongue, sweat, mind, fury, body, and spirit breathing easy, shooting that tar mac behind like a mad man in the summer.

The light pulled Jacques inside its crevice regardless of his laughter, then dumped him down. He nearly burnt his knees on the marble floor, then stood up automatically, then began flapping his jaw. It was nothing good. Mostly filth, and abstractions of filth. Not the pleas or barter for a man in the middle, or in-front of chaos, or something more like a collection of jokes which he knew wouldn’t work. He was no comedian. He could paint. Or could. When he was younger, but had long lost the moxie for. Yet, the puncher must really be that, and since time is emotion, there was still a chance, even if this was all hell’s b-side.

*

Then more black.

Grunts.

Then talk.

Are you lot hell’s b-side? I’m not being a prick on purpose. My father, ok, that’s too obvious, but hey here we go. Ok I used to have this baby sitter, she said: my foot is a hook, your arse is a fish. They were dark times. Ok, bad material, I should have reported that. ” Jacques said.

He was scared. The jokes always came out when he was scared. And he wondered if he was talking into the nothingness or if he was the nothingness. The movement of his tongue inside this black room helped. He turned his head waiting for the canned laughter. And all that came, in a pitch pure silence, opaque, gone, and ready when he stopped.

Jacques looked around, and wondered if he was talking to himself and if this was how hell was.

There was a long pause as Jacques tapped his chest pocket and found some smokes. It wasn’t trendy to smoke in London anymore, or wherever this was. It was alright-ish, if you had a job, and then did it outside the bar, but if you did it on a lunch break you had to find a corner. The smokers would be near each other obviously, before their return, and share small things, normally, larger than the day. And probably question more in that tug than any other release. Jacques decided to go with it and just smoke. The expanding black was space, and his joke had fallen rather flat, he supposed.

Jacques blew a puff out, and said “Should we just get the fuck on with it then?”, which is when the red light ahead of him replied.

It was a relief. Jacques already knew that he was half insane, and that death was like this, but it still annoyed him enough to dance. And he said: “Hell, no I should stop calling you that, lets just waltz, then waltz again, and there’s ahhh nothing… I have to say, you guys, up or down, this causeway or that, and all the damning things I am, I’m just gonna dance. Humanity’s greatest power is the ability to dance, and it’s not just about fucking, it’s about the pump you know? Like that-” And Jacques showed them what he was talking about in the darkness.

And the red from the small particle of light came towards him in one still arrow, piercing him. And there was a fraction of time when he fought. His hips pushed out a boom, and even worked, and his entire body shot back a fuck you. And as Jacques saw that this worked he did it again, and said to chaos: “Hell, I’m chaos, why the stranger?” But that was whispered, and his dance was furious. The red light kept on firing as Jacques promised in his spirit that he would out last it. Then finally, the beam stopped, returning the room back to silence and black.

The arms of light became flesh, and were bored themselves of being inhuman. They stopped before Jacques, and became a form so he could understand it. The light built upwards from the being’s toes, but didn’t understand how to separate its guest’s mind and an anatomy that could provide a fitting mode for conversation. The fluxive courtier was not what Jacques feared, he feared that he was too much alike it. Jacques looked at it straight, as he was accustomed to as a trainee solicitor, and the light broke his harvest of his strength by simply being what he desired. It became Luce. And before feeling carnal Jacques shuddered, wanting to say so many things, taking him back to that fear of falling in. Perhaps this was how worlds were taken over. Perhaps this was how dreams of flesh realised themselves, not knowing that they were dreams. But it missed that important thing as she spoke, which was that musk, and that understanding that Jacques had of her musk. Although it was strange, it had always come to him from the beginning. She spoke, even to say hello, in her polite way, and even this was the perfume that the being lacked. He appreciated the effort, but dismissed this glance as tango dancers do, knowing that rent, or at least that rent before, could not be paid by all that.

Jacques spasmed involuntarily, as the being built itself. So it became feet. Shin bones, patella, femur. Hips. All of the switching glances that make a person from the inside out. Then the tendrils heading up, no, veins, that become a heart out of time, and built around a skull. The courtier wept as it built, in honour of the fact that Jacques was doing the same. Building itself from his mind. Some days the old lassy, that he should have left to poems by now, some vigorous scrutiny around the lungs that burped and shrieked fowl hard-core songs and then crooned like Dean Martin. Bones and bones within bones. And finally, it was glowing. And beat like a heart drifting near Earth, floorless. It wished to share this view with Jacques, and also wondered: if its superiors had chosen the right being. To Jacques this looked more like a swarm of lights becoming veins. Ruddy. Just bolts of light whizzing in and out of blood creating. Then some transparent skin. Then that bone talking to the nervous system, and petals flowing through from the endocrine system, bleaching the mind, hormones and beat badda beat, badda beat.

Jacques passed out again as Nae passed its arm behind his back. It looked at is his face, and began to wonder about a planet it could create with pock marks like those that were in his skin. It would wake him to ask his opinion on such matters, but it was hard keeping him conscious during the float back down through the hemisphere. And although, this could be a rough one past the sun’s gaze, Nae decided, so so sick of these missions to liven the collapsed, so- and then the remembricant began to mate with Jacques, as a farmer in a small village twenty miles north of Newcastle, twisting stars and a day made of night inside time. The remembricant felt Jacques’ longing to return home, which is why it was overcome with his lust, and mirrored it against space.

They twisted across the sky, and became each other many times, the remembricant understanding the joke of time, and Jacques not. It was alright for Nae, this was its job, it could be anything, but Jacques was meant to be taking calls in a call centre now, and, he knew that this this was madness, just as Janus chuckled and told him to relax. Well, then they relaxed as they did on the fields near Nae’s home, and he just screamed for a few weeks. Not weeks. Autumns. The gods watched, walked, and spoke with Nae as the Earth burnt below his feet. The wind blew in chaos, and he gripped a bottle of flat cider in his right fist working through the bushes. The may flies were happy to crawl on him, and the little later maggots that past over his cuff, that he then saw, and placed them back on the branch, and then the deers and doe’s, that no-one really knows and are around here if you’re quiet. Then if you stay still enough, you’ll see the moles too.

*

We sit down beside the river late on. Where I happily speak to the ghosts of my songs. There is a more powerful force in the river. I feel it as I walk with it. Nothing mighty. Just a call to the rushing. It’s been raining heavy recently, but it isn’t tonight. And when you begin talking about weather with a loved one, that’s meant to mean it’s the end of it all. Personally. I like it. Nature is the only thing more savage than our hearts and whims, and we are fools to think that we are a part of it.

Several swans lift off from the black river, and I go with them.

*

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